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Masonry Firm Cited in 70-Foot Fall

Federal safety authorities are accusing a Florida masonry contractor of recklessly allowing an employee to use defective fall protection before he lost his life in a 70-foot fall.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Coastal Masonry, of Pompano Beach, FL, with one willful and one serious safety violation after the worker fell to his death in May while trying to straighten a piece of bent rebar at a work site on Brickel Bay Drive in Miami.

The company was erecting the interior and exterior walls for a multilevel condominium.

OSHA has proposed $77,000 in penalties in the case.

Warnings Ignored

According to the citations, three Coastal Masonry workers lacked appropriate personal fall arrest systems while working at heights—a willful violation that carries the maximum proposed penalty of $70,000.

Willful violations are OSHA's highest level of infraction, reserved for health and safety violations "committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health."

In this case, OSHA said, the company's safety director had warned management about the fall-protection lapses.

The serious violation accuses the contractor of failing to inspect fall-protection equipment before it was used and of allowing employees to work with defective equipment with tears, snags and signs of corrosion. That violation carries a proposed fine of $7,000. Serious violations involve life-threatening hazards.

Coastal Masonry did not respond to a request for comment.

'Ignored its Responsibility'

"Coastal Masonry ignored its responsibility to ensure workers performing masonry duties were provided with a fall protection system that would protect them effectively," said Condell Eastmond, OSHA's area director in Fort Lauderdale.

"Although the safety director informed management about the deficiencies with the fall protection system, the company allowed workers to be exposed to fall hazards. This employer must act immediately to remove these hazards."

A check of OSHA records shows no other violations by Coastal Masonry in the past 10 years.

About the Company

Founded in 1974, Coastal Masonry says it has "completed more than 100 projects to date and have finished every project that we have started."

The company says on its web site that it is "one of very few Florida masonry contractors that employ a full-time safety director."

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Fort Lauderdale area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

This article ran at http://www.durabilityanddesign.com, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 21:02